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First of all sorry about the delay in getting the update online. My only excuse is that it's been a rather busy time. Anyway, it's good to see Karpov back in action, and also Uhlmann still playing great chess. Have fun looking at the games.

Download PGN of June '07 French games

1.e4 e6 2.f4

The King's Gambit versus the French

White's second move is highly unusual, but it can't be dismissed as a bad move: after all, it gains space in the centre without in anyway jeopardising the white position. Whether or not it is the best move, or a move that sets Black serious problems, is another matter.

Here at we've seen many times over the years that the affect of surprise can give a move a power it objectively lacks. In this month's game, Bunzmann responds in experimental style and is severely punished. As is well known, the player of Black always pays a heavier price for opening eccentricities. Here is Glek - Bunzmann.

French Exchange 3.exd5 exd5

A living legend in the French Defence

The truly great French player Nimzowitsch was never irritated by the Exchange Variation. On the contrary, he relished it as the chance to demonstrate his strategic prowess, usually by seizing control of the light squares.

Wolfgang Uhlmann seems to have a similar attitude to the Exchange Variation. I remember being deeply impressed by the German Grandmaster's strategy in a French Exchange game given in Simon Webb's Chess for Tigers. This month I have selected a recent game that shows that Uhlmann's light is still burning brightly at 72 years old. Here is Rotstein - Uhlmann.

Fort Knox 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7

Karpov brilliant, Rustemov as solid as ever

Here we look at a couple of games in which White delays/ avoids the c2-c4 advance. In the first game, Rustemov playing Black neutralises with surprising ease the solid line 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7 5.Nf3 Bc6 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.c3:

Where did White go wrong? Take a look at Abdulov - Rustemov.

In the second game, we see Karpov in top form. He delays c2-c4 and crushes Black in beautiful style. It's good to know that the former Champion's positional genius and tactical eye are both alive and well, even if he probably no longer has enough opening theory and stamina to excel at tournaments like Linares or Wijk aan Zee. Here is Karpov - Stojanovic.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5

Mixed Fortunes for Black

We continue our discussion of 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Be7:

A new idea often has a great start to its career, and then falls on troubled times as players learn what to do against it. The apparently 'quiet' 7...Be7 has bequeathed Black some nice 25 move attacking wins, but now White is fighting back. Nevertheless, as will be seen, Black could have strengthened his play in the lines discussed here. Check out Voitsekhovsky - Vitinik.

Black's alternative is 7...a6. We all know that Mikhail Gurevich is normally a brilliant champion of Black in the French Defence, so the following game is rather disappointing. It is more reminiscent of positional crushes by Dr. Tarrasch as White back in the 1880s rather than modern dynamic struggles. Here is Leko - Gurevich.

Finally, on a more cheerful note for Black, we put the 'delayed ...Nc6' variation under the microscope, 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 a6 7.Be3 Qb6:

It begins a highly double-edged struggle with scope for creative play. Just when the position seems hopelessly blocked, Nakamura comes up with an excellent exchange sacrifice. Here is Friedel - Nakamura.

Classical 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5

An important alternative to the McCutcheon

After 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 the gambit 6.h4 is so much in the news that it is easy to forget that the simple capture 6.Bxe7 is also possible. In this month's game Black castles early on the kingside in defiance of any Greek Gift Sacrifices. Here is the exciting battle Jackova - Socko.

Winawer 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7

A startling king manoeuvre

In the mainline after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 Qc7 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 Bd7 12.Qd3 dxc3 13.Nxc3 a6 14.Rb1 I've started to warm to the idea of 14..Rc8!?:

I've always felt it is dubious for Black to renounce queenside castling, but Shulman demonstrates that the black king is safer on h8 than on the queenside! Here is the remarkable game Sarkar - Shulman.

Well, that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed the games and good luck with your chess!

Best Regards, Neil

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